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Archive for March, 2018

Are you a good leader?

March 19th, 2018 No comments

I’ll never forget when a mentor asked me:

Are you a good leader?

Duh, all of the reasons why people wanted to be in my org went through my mind. She knew that my organizations had exceeded expectations the last three years……then a nagging feeling took hold of me. I asked why she was asking this question? She asked another question:

How many of the people reporting to me today, could deliver the results in two years?

Again that avoidance thing rushed forward to protect my fragile ego…I tried to avoid answering the question by debating the number years. She wouldn’t have it! I tried to protect myself knowing full well that she was about to crush my ego and educate me! Here is what she had to say:

Good for me that the teams were delivering above expectations but I was still a key ingredient of the recipe. Because I wasn’t growing leaders to replace me, or grow leaders to export; this all all about me and my ego. I making sure that I was an integral ingredient of the recipe, thereby making sure that I was needed.

Ouch!! Since then, I now operate in a manner to try to put myself out of a job. It is waaaayyyy more difficult than it sounds and I continue to struggle with it. All of this being said, I can now say that I have managed to help a number of people to grow into roles where they are now working on this same challenge.

 

How many leaders have you helped create?

unlikely duo with a fresh perspective

March 15th, 2018 No comments

What happens when a four star general joins forces with a Berkley professor to write a book? Based on the first couple of hours that I’ve spent with the book; I believe they’ve created something special. Here is a quote from the first page of the Preface

Although the world has changed, the way we think about leadership hasn’t kept pace. Often the result is suboptimal objectives decided upon too late, measured with the wrong metrics, and implemented with overconfidence by a workforce that is not sufficiently empowered to deliver them.

 

Wow, talk about not pulling punches!

For the folks that are interested in reading the rest of the Preface, here is a link to some chapters of the google books version: https://books.google.com/books/about/Radical_Inclusion.html?id=0bdIDwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button#v=onepage&q&f=false

In the following chapters the authors share a fresh perspective and thinking. I’m heading back to read my book.

 

Radical Inclusion: What the Post-9/11 World Should Have Taught Us About Leadership by Martin Dempsey & Ori Brafman can be found on Amazon: http://a.co/6b0qfdG

 

 

Categories: Books, Leadership Tags: ,

diversity is a lot more than just what’s easy to see

March 9th, 2018 No comments

 

Last week, I overheard a discussion where someone was complaining about too many assholes joining their team. As I listened, it became very apparent that the person was complaining about behaviors and perspectives that where different from their own. When I pointed out to them that different mindsets, opinions and behaviors was diversity, he became very belligerent telling me that diversity was either race or sex. Well Simon, yes, those are glaringly obvious and don’t require any thought which make them easy to spot. We were interrupted and this interchange got me thinking. I started to write this post highlighting how travel, our past, mindset’s and attitudes all impact diversity when I realized that I was missing the point.

No matter how we define diversity, the key is to respect the differences. To ask questions, to understand them and learn about them. While we can decide to return some perspectives to their owners, the key is respect. Respect their perspectives, especially if our’s are different.

 

This Job Description sucks…

March 6th, 2018 No comments

There is research that our language is a reflection of our perspectives and biases. As such, the terms and language that we use can negatively affect people when they are reading our job descriptions.  Here are some of the highlights that I learned researching this topic and how we now approach the creation of job descriptions.

Key Lessons Learned

  1. Most men in the USA will read the job description and when they see 3 or 4 items that they can do, they apply for the position. This is not true with many other cultures and mindsets where they will read and evaluate the job description numerous times, determining which criteria they don’t meet. Simply put, they self exclude. an example of this is listing a looooong list of desired skills in the required skills section.
  2. Some labels or terms can be perceived by the reader to indicate a culture that is aggressive, comfortable with conflict or that a teammate has to fail in order for someone else to succeed. e.g. ninja, rockstar, cowboy, crush competition, dominate, work hard – play hard
  3. For folks that are in the early stages of their careers and others that are blessed with a learning mindset, the workplace needs to be a safe environment where people can make mistakes and learn from them. For these folks, a learning environment is key and so they will be looking for keywords that indicates safety. Safety is a key aspect of a healthy culture too!
  4. Focus less on the title and more on the role and don’t list all of the levels that HR has associated with the roles. Why lose a talented candidate because they don’t like a cookie cutter title?
  5. Ten plus years of experience doing something really doesn’t equal competence and excludes people who are talented and deliver the results needed but meet the number of the years experience. Quite honestly, this is how the recruiting team leverage the resume automation to exclude unqualified applicants.

 

How we’ve implemented the lessons learned:

  1. Tell a story of that what the company is like; describe what a day in the life of this role is like. Potential candidates can then easily visualize themselves in that role and determine if it’s a  fit for them or not.
  2. The job description is not a wish list of skills – if there are two or three skills that you cannot live without, list those but resist the urge to publish a wish list.
  3. Focus in on the what the candidate can learn, how they can learn, how they can collaborate with teammates & customers. Learning is a massive part of our life journey and as such people that want to grow are looking for indicator of a safe culture.
  4. Have one name for the role. The level and associated compensation can be addressed with the successful candidates based on their capabilities. That is in internal stuff and shouldn’t complicate the hiring and recruiting process. In our world where we value deliverables that delight our customers, we have learned that ego and compensation is not in the top decision criteria.
  5. Experience solving the following types of challenges in a collaborative manner: ……… People that are excited about the problems that need to be fixed based on their life experiences.

So did this work?

The short answer is: YES!!

We saw a much larger percentage of women apply and the majority of people applied were in our target audience. There were the normal percentage of under qualified or SPAM submissions. The candidates who made it to the short list and were looped for interviews were all exceptional candidates and we had difficult choices on our hands.

We develop software service leveraging an agile-methodology in a disciplined, collaborative environment where creativity & learning is valued; we are sensitive to our customers needs and invest in developing warm relationships with our customers. This approach to writing job descriptions definitely helps us find people that fit right in and thrive in our culture.

 

Additional reading:

FastCompany article on how job description wording affects people – https://www.fastcompany.com/3044094/how-changing-one-word-in-job-descriptions-can-lead-to-more-diverse-candid

 

Online tools to evaluate your job descriptions

Free tool:  http://gender-decoder.katmatfield.com

Paid tool: https://textio.com/

 

 

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